Cafe Berlin

8 Jul 2011
A Bit Costly ($15-$25)
Southeast Huntsville
4 out of 5

Melanie’s Take

We all know how men typically respond to the idea of dining at a “girly” place. You know, the kind of place where the interior design is more pleasing than in most homes and where you sit at tiny tables and eat tiny portions of food. Cafe Berlin is such a place with one important exception: the food here is plentiful. I can’t think of many places where you can go and feel a daintiness of atmosphere but leave needing to loosen your belt. Shane and I have eaten here a few times, and we typically enjoy each visit. The food is always good, sometimes excellent, and the service is often excellent too. And the decor? Could somebody send those people to my house?
After we were shown to our diminuitive table, we were served a basket of warm bread. Like its sister restaurant, Ol Heidelberg, Cafe Berlin’s bread basket contains both wheat and rye bread with tasty butter on the side. Bread makes me happy, and this bread especially so because of its tangy flavor and soft texture. For my entree, I chose the Roquefort Chicken, a type of cordon bleu dish that’s stuffed with roquefort cheese, proscuitto, and toasted almonds and fried. My chosen sides were warm German potato salad and brie macaroni and cheese. As we waited for our food to arrive, we feasted on the warm bread.
The wait to receive our entrees was longer than I remember as being typical of Cafe Berlin, but it is also tyypically worth the wait. In my case, the main dish was delicious. Who can complain about fried chicken that’s stuffed with ham and cheese? The roquefort was sharp and added a nice edge to the chicken, as did the proscuitto. The portion was enough for two, nearly filling the plate on its own. The rest of the plate was occupied by the warm potato salad, which contained pieces of bacon and onion. This potato salad is not the mayonaisse variety but is instead lightly coated in vinegar, giving it a delicious complex flavor. The only unfortunate item was the brie mac and cheese. It seemed as if the pasta had not been fully drained, resulting in a watered-down brie sauce. It was the dish I most looked forward to and the one in which I was most disappointed.
With absolutely no room left for dessert, we ordered anyway. After asking for a recommendation from our waiter, he suggested we try the house-made bread pudding (all other desserts are made in Atlanta). When it arrived, it looked delicious, and it had visions of Watercress’s bread pudding dancing in my head. After one bite of the pudding, I was sure our waiter was a drinking man because the rum absolutely overpowered the dish. I opted to stick to the vanilla ice cream atop the pudding. Overall, the food at Cafe Berlin is delicious, and the service is top-notch. Although the prices will keep us from being regulars, we will certainly be back.

Shane’s Take

Melanie has well covered the appeal of Cafe Berlin: it’s a pleasant place to eat, and it serves good food. Being a cafe, Cafe Berlin is a little girly, but we’re not talking Clementine’s, especially not the Clementine’s in the botanical gardens. Yes, it has small tables, dainty curtains, and a handful of feminine Hobby Lobbyish trinkets spread about, but the green walls and darkly-stained and dimly-lit bar keep it from being run over by the ladies. In fact, if cigar smoking were allowed at the bar, I would peg Berlin as almost welcoming to a man. Other than being a German restaurant (and I realize this is a big other), I see no reason Winston Churchill wouldn’t like to smoke one in Cafe Berlin.
Veal Schnitzel Cordon Bleu
I ordered the Veal Schnitzel Cordon Bleu, which was accompanied by a green salad, a potato salad, and a side of cheese-topped cauliflower. The schnitzel was breaded and fried perfectly and had a nice flavor, but the veal was a tad tough and the ham was more Buddig than Boar’s Head. Still, it was good. The potato salad, which is nothing like what you eat on a picnic, also tasted good. I also enjoyed the cauliflower—something I don’t recall eating since being forced to as a child—whose typically undesirable flavor was ably masked by a layer of jarlsberg cheese. Oddly, the highlight of the meal was the salad composed of slightly wilted mixed greens, feta, walnuts, and a subtle vinaigrette. It tasted awesome, and, in spite of my masculine reluctance to enjoy a salad, I really enjoyed it. As Melanie said, the bread pudding was more rum than bread or pudding, but the less-rummy parts had a great texture and flavor.
On the whole, I enjoyed our dining experience at Cafe Berlin. It wasn’t a perfect experience—we waited too long for our food, the ceiling fans failed to overcome the anemic air conditioner, the food cost a lot, and the bread pudding was a rum shooter—but I enjoyed it. Except for Melanie’s macaroni, the food was good, and the service was excellent, despite being a bit slow. It’s definitely worth a return visit. Closing thoughts:
  • Fellas, this is a nice date spot. Avoid the veal (because you have a heart) and the cabbage (because she has a nose), and you won’t go wrong.
  • Don’t miss the refrigerated dessert cabinet. Years ago, they had the best carrot cake in town. I didn’t see it on our visit, but maybe you’ll get lucky.
Cafe Berlin on Urbanspoon

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